The moral qualities which fall under the heading of abstaining from doing wrong or injuries are chiefly four in number. Each of these is designed by a single word in Arabic, the language of the Glorious Qu’ran, which is so rich in vocabulary that it supplies a different word for different human conceptions, manners and morals. First of all we shall consider the quality of ihsan [in Arabic]. This word signifies the virtue which relates to the act of procreation in men and woman. A man or a woman is said to be “muhsana” when he or she abstains from illegal intercourse and its preliminaries which bring disgrace and ruin upon the head of the sinners in the world and severe torture in the next. None is more wicked than the infamous villain who causes the loss of a wife to a husband and that of a mother to her children, and thus violently disturbs the peace of the whole household bringing ruin upon the head of both the guilty wife and the innocent husband and children.
The first thing to remember about this moral quality which we call chastity is that no one deserves credit from refraining from satisfying his carnal desires illegally if nature has not given him these desires. The expression “moral quality,” therefore, cannot be applied to the mere act of refraining from such a course unless nature has also granted him the capacity of committing the bad deed. It is refraining under such circumstances, i.e. against the power of passions which nature has placed in man that deserves to be credited as a high moral quality. Underage, impotence, emasculation or old age nullifies the existence of the moral quality we term chastity, although refraining from the illegal act exists in these cases. But the fact is that in such cases it is a natural condition, and there is no resistance of passion, and, therefore, no propriety in the act. This is a distinction of importance between natural conditions and moral qualities. In the former there exists no tendency to go to the opposite direction, while in the latter there is a struggle between the good and evil passion, which necessitates the application of the reasoning faculty as well as the restrictions of the law together with a true sense of feeling that the Almighty God is aware of all human deeds. There is no doubt that children under the age of puberty and men who have lost the power upon which restrictions are to be imposed, cannot claim to possess a moral quality of so great a value, though their actions might resemble those of chaste men and woman. But their chastity, if it might at all be called chastity, is only a natural condition over which they have no control. For this reason the Prophet announced that “He is not the true courageous who overcomes his enemies, but the most true is he who overcomes and controls his lower passion.” Again the tendency of the Muslim precepts is that no man should deserve God’s reward for acting in accordance with the ordinances of religion unless he was naturally capable of disobeying them. The directions contained in the Glorious Qu’ran for attainment of the noble quality of chastity are given in the following ordinances: “Ask [O Prophet] the believing men to lower their gaze [to strange women] and be modest. That is purer for them. [Let them know] that God is aware of all that they do.” [24:30]
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands and husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women or their slaves or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of woman’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. Tell the believing men and women to observe these ordinances so that they might lead a successful life.” [24:31]
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